Development of young talent, that’s always been a top priority at Bethlehem Steel FC since its reincarnation as Philadelphia Union’s USL affiliate in 2016. By giving meaningful playing time to members of the Union roster and Union academy players, the organization can see who has the potential to make it the top levels of professional soccer. With the signing of academy product Jack de Vries to a pre-contract with Philadelphia Union – the young attacker will be added to the roster in 2020 – head coach Brendan Burke and the Steel have proved their worth yet again by moving another top talent through to the first team.
De Vries has trained with Burke, Stephen Hogan, and the Steel squad throughout the 2019 season though he remained a member of the Union academy and never signed a USL Championship contract. The Dutch-American dual citizen has made three appearances (two starts) for Steel FC this year, making his debut as a substitute in the 2-0 shutout win in the season opener at Birmingham (March 10). The following week de Vries earned his first start when Steel played their first-ever match at Talen Energy Stadium against North Carolina FC the following week. While de Vries has continued to work at training to elevate his game, his talent has been noticed quite frequently by U.S. Soccer.
Four call-ups to the U.S. U-17s in 2019, including a recent domestic training camp in Carson, California from July 27-August 7 testify to the potential many see in Philly’s latest signing. The attacker also participated in the 2019 Concacaf Under-17 Championship, helping the United States to a second place finish.
Bethlehem Steel FC’s recent successes on the pitch, including a road win at Pittsburgh in the 2018 USL Championship playoffs only tell part of the club’s story. Burke, Hogan, and the rest of the Steel staff aim to win every match they play, but they never lose sight of their development goal. De Vries may not have spent much gametime with Steel yet, but he has been able to train with professionals for nearly a full season now, and the work, focus, and daily grind required to make it to the top have given the prodigious talent a clear picture of what he must do to grasp his chance and fulfill his potential.
De Vries’ future team is back in Talen Energy Stadium this weekend hosting Wayne Rooney and D.C. United on Saturday, August 24 at 7:30 p.m. ET, while the Steel host expansion side Birmingham Legion FC on Sunday, August 25 at 6:00 p.m. ET. Tickets to the Steel’s match against the Legion are available here, with the match set to be broadcast on ESPN+.